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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Turnabout can come swiftly at the blackjack table

10 February 2007

I sat down at an empty blackjack table and began betting the table minimum. When you're alone with the dealer, you'll usually get in about 40 hands per shoe. Sticking with table minimum bets, I was down 26 bets by the time the yellow cut-card popped out. That means I had to have gone something like 7-33 on that shoe. Nice start!

The next two shoes weren't so hot either. At their conclusion I was down about 40 times the table minimum. At the beginning of the fourth shoe, the dealer began torturing me with a seemingly endless flurry of three, four and five card 20s and 21s. That's the point where most people would jump up in disgust and leave the table. But if you're a savvy player, you know what all those baby cards mean.

So I doubled, then quadrupled, then sextupled my bet and things just got worse! I kept getting nice hands to double down with, but could only catch a stupid deuce or a 4 to make stiff after stiff. More than halfway through the shoe, I was down about 60 times the table minimum.

Now betting eight units per hand in fervent search of those 120 tens and Aces that had to be in there somewhere, I was dealt a pair of 8s against the dealer's 5. Splitting, I caught an Ace on my first 8 to make a soft 19. I immediately doubled down, catching the first "paint" (picture card) to be seen in some time, giving me a hard 19. On my second 8, I caught a third 8 and re-split. Catching a 3, I doubled and made 21 with another paint. On the third 8 I caught a deuce, doubled down and made 20. I now had three separate hands, each with 16 units riding on them. The dealer turned over a paint in the hole and promptly busted!

In one fell swoop, I had suddenly drawn within striking distance. There was only a tad more shoe left with a considerable excess of 10s and Aces still remaining, so I played two hands for six units each. I was dealt an Ace/8 and a 5/3 against the dealer's 6 as the cut-card popped out of the shoe, signifying the last round. If I could just win these last two hands, I'd be even and will have gotten out of the trap. What would you do?

Ninety-nine percent of the players would contentedly stand on the soft 19 and hit the hard 8. Only an enlightened few would know to double both hands with this "heavy" shoe. That's what I did, catching an Ace and a 10 as the dealer proceeded to go: 6-16-26!

On the last two rounds of the shoe, I had gone from 60 units down to 12 units ahead. I colored up, tipped the dealer and hit the door after four turbulent shoes. One more sunny day at the green felt beach.

This story was true and was an example of the ups and downs you can experience when you play blackjack seriously. This particular episode turned out well, as many have. But there were plenty others that never turned around, sending me home a lot lighter and a lot humbler.

There were also those days when I came out of the gate like a house afire, only to blow it all back and then some on the last shoe. But if you understand "advantage" gambling, you know it's not about winning today. It's all about taking your edges when you find them, and living with the ups and downs on your way to the long run.

There's one thing you need to realize about blackjack. If you play a slow, even, consistent game -- you'll get slowly, evenly ground down to a little nub. There's no way you can win more hands than you lose. But there will be isolated times when the shoe does favor you. You need a way to identify those times and go on the offensive right there, right then. And if you lose, remember – that's just a short piece of the long run.

For Fred's 13-page booklet "The Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to, Fred Renzey, PO Box 598, Elk Grove Village, 60009.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey